Wales v Australia - Teams and Prediction
WORLD CUP, ROUND THREE: Wallaby head coach Eddie Jones says his team is in a good position to right the wrongs and bounce back in their must-win World Cup Pool C clash against Wales on Sunday.
The Australians will almost certainly miss out on a quarterfinal spot if they fail to beat the Welsh, which would mean it will be their worst showing at a World Cup ever.
Eddie Jones and his young squad have been under immense pressure since their underwhelming performance against the Fijians and there have been some notable changes to the starting line-up, particularly at flyhalf and scrumhalf.
Ben Donaldson, who started the first two pool matches at fullback, gets the No.10 jersey this weekend and his halfback partner will be Tate McDermott who returns from concussion.
When asked if the Wallabies are well-positioned knowing this a do-or-die game, Jones explained: I’d hardly say well-positioned, but what I would say is that we’ve had a really good preparation. ”
“I’ve been impressed how the young team has bounced back.
“Last week was a difficult game for us and we’ve bounced back really well and prepared really well for this game so we’ll go out there and give it a red-hot go.”
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The have been a lot of question marks surrounding Jones’ use of Carter Gordon at flyhalf in previous matches and the youngster now finds himself on the bench after five successive starts.
“I just feel we needed to probably freshen the team up”,” said Jones.
“Carter’s had an opportunity, struggled a bit against Fiji and I thought he was best to finish the game for us.
“With young players, you’ve got to have a feel of where they are. Sometimes you need to back them, sometimes you need to pull them away a little bit.
“At the moment we feel like it’s best to pull him away a little bit.”
Jones admitted that his team is far from where he wanted them to be at this stage of the new cycle and this Test could be a defining one in the veteran coach’s second spell as Australia’s coach.
“They’re all important. Every Test match is important,” said the former England coach.
“Look, I’ve let Australian rugby down; I haven’t done the job I was brought in to do.
“I was brought it turn it around so I feel that responsibility.
“Do I approach it differently? No. I just get the team well prepared, that’s the only thing I can control.”
Meanwhile, Wales are themselves in a transitional period, with the likes of Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric and Rhys Webb retiring from international duty in the months before the World Cup.
Despite that, head coach Warren Gatland is still fielding a team with 400 more Test caps between them than Australia.
“I think experience is going to play a big part. We are clear about what we want to achieve. We go with a lot of confidence on Sunday,” said Gatland, who reverted to the same team that beat Fiji 32-26 in their Pool C opener, before ringing the changes in a 28-8 win over Portugal.
“We’ve got 10 points and we know that a win on Sunday puts us into the quarterfinals,” added the New Zealander.
Gatland also expects Sunday’s match to feature a lot of kicking but pointed the finger at Australia’s “direct” style.
“I was surprised at their tactics against Fiji. They had 11 minutes less ball-in-play time than we had against Fiji,” he said
“So, I’m not 100 percent sure tactically the way they’re going to come at us. We’ve practised for a couple of scenarios.”
Players to watch
For Wales: Probably one area where the Welsh will have a big advantage is at flyhalf. Dan Biggar has plenty of experience compared to Australia’s playmakers and if he does leave the field then there is also Gareth Anscombe waiting to come on off the bench. Wales will also have plenty of speed and guile in their back three with Liam Williams at fullback and Louis Rees Zammit and Josh Adams on the wings. Williams will be a threat when running the ball back at the Wallabies and he has a good boot on him as well. In the pack, Taulupe Faletau is a big ball carrier and he will surely be a handful for the Australians if he gets some momentum.
For Australia: With Carter Gordon dropping down to the bench, Ben Donaldson gets an opportunity to prove his worth in that playmaker role. Donaldson has shown some nice touches with the ball when playing a fullback, but he will have less time to make some all-important decisions with the Welsh defenders rushing at him in that No.10 channel. Andrew Kellaway has plenty of speed and he could be a handful in that fullback position. The Wallabies will also need a calm head on scrumhalf Tate McDermot’s shoulders especially when things get tight in the final quarter. In the pack, Tom Hooper will surely give Wales a few headaches at the breakdown, while Richie Arnold and Nick Frost will need to show a lot more physicality in the second row.
Key RWC info
- This will be the eighth time Australia and Wales have been drawn in the same pool at the World Cup, joining New Zealand against France as the most played fixture in the tournament’s history.
- Four of the seven meetings have come in the pool rounds, and in their fifth meeting, this fixture joins Fiji against Wales and Italy against New Zealand as the most-played fixture at this stage of the tournament.
- Wales have only beaten the Wallabies on two occasions at the World Cup, in the bronze final in Rotorua in 1987, and in the pool rounds at RWC 2019. They have never recorded consecutive victories against Australia at the World Cup.
- Both victories have been narrow, by one point in 1987 and four points in 2019.
@rugby365com: Wales by three points.
Wales: 15 Liam Williams; 14 Louis Rees Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Jac Morgan (Captain), 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Henry Thomas, 19 Dafydd Jenkins, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Rio Dyer.
Australia: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Ben Donaldson, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Tom Hooper, 6 Rob Leota, 5 Richie Arnold, 4 Nick Frost, 3 James Slipper, 2 David Porecki (captain), 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Matt Faessler, 17 Blake Schoupp, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Nic White, 22 Carter Gordon, 23 Suliasi Vunivalu.
Date: Sunday, September 24
Venue: OL Stadium, Lyon
Kick-off: 21.00 (19.00 GMT; 20.00 UK & Ireland time; 5.00 Monday, September 25 AEST)
Expected weather: It is set to be chilly around kick-off with a temperature in the single digits with a very slight breeze.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Luke Pearce (England) & Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)
Additional report: AFP